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Title: Use of relational agents to improve family communication in type 1 diabetes: Methods

item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item CULLEN, KAREN - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item REDONDO, MARIA - Baylor College Of Medicine
item ANDERSON, BARBARA - Baylor College Of Medicine

Submitted to: JMIR Research Protocols
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/6/2016
Publication Date: 7/28/2016
Publication URL:
Citation: Thompson, D.J., Cullen, K.W., Redondo, M.J., Anderson, B. 2016. Use of relational agents to improve family communication in type 1 diabetes: Methods. JMIR Research Protocols. 5(3):e151.

Interpretive Summary: Family communication regarding management of type 1 diabetes is important for overall self-management in children and teens. We are adapting an existing, proven-effective family communication program to an online format to enhance its potential reach. If the online program is proven to be feasible, it has the potential of reaching families and enhancing not only family communication around type 1 diabetes management tasks, but decreasing long-term complications associated with poor blood glucose self-management.

Technical Abstract: Physiological and environmental risk factors interact to undermine blood glucose control during early adolescence. This has been documented to be associated with family conflict and poor adherence to diabetes management tasks. Family Teamwork is an efficacious program demonstrated to enhance family communication and reduce conflict during this vulnerable period. It was designed to be delivered to families in-person, which limited reach and potential impact. The purpose of this paper is to present the protocol for adapting Family Teamwork for Web-based delivery. Formative research with health care providers, parents, and adolescents will help modify Family Teamwork for Web-based delivery by a relational agent (i.e., a computerized character with human-like features and actions). Sessions will be interactive, requiring both parent and adolescent participation, with the relational agent serving as a health coach. After programming, usability testing will be conducted to help ensure the program is easy to use. Video and instructional materials will be developed to facilitate use, and a small pilot study will be conducted to assess feasibility. Families will provide written informed consent prior to participation in any phase of the study. The Institutional Review Board at Baylor College of Medicine reviewed and approved the protocol (H-37245). Formative research is underway. No results are available at this time. This research has the potential to make an important contribution to diabetes management by using technology to enhance the reach of an efficacious program.